Mental scars for traffic victims

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The Independent Online
Children commonly suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after being involved in a road traffic accident, a new study has found.

Researchers called urgently for health care staff to recognise and treat the potential psychological consequences for children and adolescents as well as ministering to their physical injuries.

Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry the researchers looked at 57 injured children who had been brought into five Glasgow hospitals between April and August 1995. Four months on parents reported that nearly half the children suffered from persistent mood disturbances - largely tantrums and mood swings but also sadness and withdrawal. Nearly half still suffered from mild, moderate or severe from post traumatic stress disorder, 17 per cent from traffic-related fears and more than a quarter still felt wary on the roads. Those who had been most distressed at the time of the accident were most likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

The researchers said that it was important for hospital staff to recognise the danger of post-traumatic reaction and they said that where necessary specialist mental health advice should be offered as soon as possible. Glenda Cooper